This season has given rise to the possibility of the line from the film being disproved at last, as the SPL faces the prospect of making room for two lots of Highlanders in the qualifying places for the Europa League.
An uneventful goalless draw in Dingwall yesterday was perhaps no way to celebrate that, but it did seem fitting that neither side was made to suffer a dent to their ambitions.
The draw means Inverness are still just a point ahead of their Highland rivals – with second-placed Motherwell three points above them – and Europe does not seem so far away for either of them. Their shared success has led the clubs to pat each other on the back this season but yesterday it was more about giving an old rival a dead arm and a slap in the puss.
The atmosphere at Victoria Park was enlivened by the aspirations of both clubs but the jibes between fans remained gentle. Things on the field kicked up a notch after half an hour, though, when Iain Vigurs caught David Raven with a boot, with the Inverness defender reacting by jabbing an elbow and then a finger at Vigurs.
Both players were booked and the temperature also had to be lowered in the technical area as County manager Derek Adams and Terry Butcher became embroiled in a feisty argument.
"I've not had one of them for ages," said the Inverness manager. "It was fantastic – I was swearing but he wasn't. We will have a cup of tea now; he's fine. It was good fun."
The Dingwall side were criticised for their style last season and are still considered robust. Yet they have players able to weave attacking moves within that sturdy framework, with Vigurs clipping a reverse pass over the Inverness defence after just four minutes but Evangelos Oikonomou unable to take it cleanly.
The County full-back got plenty on a shot after 24 minutes which was saved by Ryan Esson, while Paul Lawson also had a fierce shot which required a brace block from Josh Meekings. County have not won a derby this season – the closest they came was a Scottish Cup fourth-round tie in December which went to a replay – and seemed intent on making a fight of it yesterday. The replay defeat is one of only two losses County have suffered in 13 matches – the other came against Celtic in December – and they have now gone 10 games unbeaten.
"We have had seven wins in that run and we just need to keep on going, keep on fighting," Adams said.
Lawson was responsible for the biggest bruises to Inverness's resolve. He lofted a pass for Ivan Sproule to scamper on to in the first half, then sent a raking ball across field to Mihael Kovacevic after the break. The full-back shot narrowly past a post.
County were the more persuasive side, then, and Inverness were left to respond intermittently.
That will have felt unusual since they scored eight goals in the three derbies earlier in the season, but Inverness have learned to rely on moments of subtlety and the assured finishing of top scorer Billy McKay this season. They were only able to muster the first part yesterday, with McKay unable to unnerve a stern County defence and their best chance falling to a defender.
That came after 29 minutes, when a corner made it as far as Graeme Shinnie at the far post. The full-back nudged in a low shot but it was hacked off the line by Rocco Quinn. Shinnie nearly manufactured an advantage for Inverness in the second half, too, but was booked for diving after 79 minutes after he had nicked the ball off the toes of Oikonomou in the box. "He is adamant it was a penalty but that's him suspended for the next game with County [on March 16]," Butcher said.
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